Mumbai:Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi reckons reviving Test cricket's popularity is the next challenge ahead of the administrators, while Sachin Tendulkar believes the first step in that direction could be throwing open the gates for school and college students.
"One of the suggestions I gave to the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) was to make Test cricket day/night affair to allow people to come and watch it after their duty hours," said Modi, hailed for making Twenty20 in general and IPL in particular a massive success, during a panel discussion here on Tuesday.
The discussion followed the release "Out of the Box -Watching the Game We Love", a book by commentator Harsha Bhogle whose first copy was presented to Tendulkar.
Taking part in the discussion, albeit as part of the packed audience, Tendulkar once again repeated his idea to the Cricket Board that it should allow free entry to the students to convert them into fans of the traditional form of the game.
"I have already suggested this to the BCCI. Going to watch the India vs West Indies Test match in 1983 at the Wankhede Stadium as a seven-year-old is etched in my memory.
The BCCI should open the gates on weekends to top school and college children to savour Test cricket live. If at least 10 per cent of them become Test fans, the purpose would be served," he said.
Tendulkar's former India teammate and now a television expert, Sanjay Manjrekar, felt that the problem with Test cricket is that though the fans loved seeing three bouncers directed at a batsman by a bowler or catches taken in the slips, it was too spread-out.
"This action is spread out over seven hours which is too long. When you tweak that, Test cricket can be enjoyable," said Manjrekar.
Modi said with so many other forms of entertainment readily available to the consumers these days, they need to be attracted to the game.
"There are other sports for the consumer to turn to. There are 100 or 150 TV channels too. One way forward is to play day-night Tests. Also we need to schedule more Tests into the FTP which can be done for the 2012-2020 programme," he suggested.
Manjrekar, supporting Australian great Shane Warne who has said 50-over cricket has lost its shelf life, said there was too much mediocrity in the more traditional limited-overs format.
"What I want is excellence but I feel there's too much mediocrity in 50-over games. Take for example the recent series between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, where 80 per cent of the runs were scored through ones and two's and not through boundary hits," he pointed out.